High School Sports

Play for a split: Golden Valley baseball set to host Turlock

Scott Solis sticks to a simple plan when figuring out his club’s chances at making the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs...

Play for splits.

And hope for sweeps.

“You have to at least split with everybody,” the Golden Valley baseball coach said.

“With our league and how competitive it is, anybody can beat you. So if you play for the split and get two when you can, you’ll be in great shape.”

That’s what makes Thursday’s game with Turlock so important for Golden Valley.

First pitch is set for 4 p.m. at Golden Valley.

GV dropped the first game in this series on Tuesday.

Turlock starter Vince Wheeland kept GV in check throughout, allowing two runs on three hits, and Turlock roughed up two pitchers in a 7-2 victory at Turlock.

The win gave the league’s last unbeaten team some breathing room atop the crowded Central California Conference standings.

Turlock (5-0) currently holds a one-game lead on defending champ Buhach Colony (4-1) and a two-game cushion on Golden Valley and Pitman.

Golden Valley and Pitman are tied for third at 4-3 — dangerously close to falling out of the playoff picture.

Only two teams advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.

“Our league is very good,” Solis said. “We’ve played a lot of teams up and down the state, and these seven are as good as any that I’ve seen.”

That Turlock has steered its way to the top doesn’t surprise Solis one bit.

“They’re solid,” he said, lauding his opponent. “That’s a very good baseball team. They execute great and that kid we faced threw strikes.”

Golden Valley will bring out the big gun on Thursday: reigning Sun-Star Player of the Year Trevor Cesar.

The Duke-bound ace is 4-0 on the season with a minuscule 0.83 earned run average.

Solis believes Golden Valley is a different team with Cesar toeing the rubber. GV is 5-2 in games that he’s started.

“We play with a little more confidence,” Solis said. “It makes it easier when you don’t score as many runs.”

James Burns is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2417 or via e-mail at jburns@mercedsun-star.com.